Update 2022: This information is now quite out of date, for new information on travelling between the UK and Europe post Brexit, see our updated post.
Dogs travel between the UK and Europe all the time these days and there are fewer cases of rabies now than 30 years ago. However, mainland Europe is still not considered rabies free (like the UK and the USA are), so to leave the UK and come back, all dogs need to meet certain requirements.
To travel around the EU, all dogs require a pet passport. The same rules apply to dogs as they do for people – you’re free to travel around most of the EU as much as you want without border controls. Once you have the pet passport, which records veterinary vaccinations and treatments, you’re good to go.
There are exceptions though, some countries require dogs to be wormed between 1 and 5 days before arrival. They are Malta, Ireland, Normal, Finland and the UK. Entry in and out of the UK especially will require checking your dog’s passport.
So what is in a Pet Passport? What do we need to do to get a Pet Passport?
Pet passports list the different treatments your pet has had, including all vaccinations; so it’s actually quite a good document to have anyway in case you need an emergency vet.
You can get one from certain vets in EU countries, and other countries that the UK and EU accept pet passports from. When you visit a vet to get your pet passport, you need it’s identity and vaccination records, and any rabies blood test results (if applicable).
For more information about pet passports in the UK, see the gov.uk site: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/pet-passport
Pet Passport photograph!
Yes, that’s right, just like our passports the pet passport has a space for a photo. While this is optional, I have been told it is better to have one, as it then does not give customs officials a reason to deny your pet entry to any country. The size should be 5 x 5cm (2 x 2 inches).
You may never need to show your pet’s passport except upon entry to Europe or the UK. But by meeting all the requirements for legal presence by having one means you are free to travel throughout Europe (with limited exceptions).
All pets will need to be microchipped before they can travel in and out of the UK. The microchip will be checked against the pet passport at the point of entry.
All pets should be microchipped before, or at the same time as, their rabies vaccination. If you don’t, they’ll need to be vaccinated again.
Your pet will need to be vaccinated against rabies and you need to wait at least 21 days after this before you travel (the first day of vaccination is day 0, not day 1). Be aware of what type of vaccine you are getting and when it expires, as some rabies vaccines in the UK last for 3 years, but there are others that last for 3 years but need a top up after a year.
Some countries require your dog to be wormed no less than 48 hours and no more than 5 days before you travel. This worming must take place at a veterinary centre and you must have proof that the medication has been administered. So please ensure you do some research on the location and opening times of veterinary centres near the relevant borders.
Travelling on ferries with a dog
There are various rules and regulations for taking a dog on a ferry. If you are travelling by car with a caravan or trailer, ferries are the easiest option to get between destinations such as England and France, Ireland, Denmark and Norway.
Most ferries that we have looked into will allow dogs with EU Passports on board for a small fee. However, dogs will be expected to stay in the car.
If you are a foot passenger, there are special areas on the car deck or on the outside deck for leaving dogs; occasionally they are allowed in the cabin if they are in a carrier. Though I believe there are some exceptions to this like ferries connecting England with France/Belgium/Netherlands, with the majority of these ferries not allowing foot passengers to take dogs.
Is the breed of your dog an issue?
That’s right! While doing our research we found out that some breeds of dogs are in fact banned or have limits/restrictions regarding their entry to certain countries. For example, Germany state that a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is banned but makes an exception for dangerous dogs accompanying individuals who are not staying in the Federal Republic of Germany for longer than four weeks (particularly intended for tourists). This was quite a shock to us and not something we had considered but we’re glad we found out about before we left.
You need to pay attention to not only the rules of the country that is your destination but all the countries you are travelling through. We have found this information quite hard to find and have spent a lot of time researching as the last thing we want is to not be allowed access to a country or have Pepper confiscated.
Please see our other post on travelling with dangerous dogs in Europe.
Muzzles and short leads
Some countries require dogs, especially if mentioned on the dangerous dogs’ list, to be muzzled and kept on a short lead at all times. So I would suggest that you ensure you purchase and get your dog used to wearing a muzzle before you go. I would also suggest ensuring you have both a roaming and permanent short lead with you.
In many EU countries and regions, dog owners are required to have liability insurance. If you travel without suitable insurance you can be fined. For more information please look at the AIC website. Most owners have dog insurance anyway and these usually have liability insurance included; but please note that most regular policies have travel limits. Ours, for example, only covers travel abroad for up to 60 days at a time.
Although Europe is dog-friendly, I do think sight-seeing may be tricky at times in Europe. While yes, dogs are fine to wander around old cities and are allowed on most hikes in national parks; there will be locations that we intend visiting where she will not be welcome, like museums, theme parks, and palaces.
However, there are still ways to visit these locations even if your beloved pet is not allowed. You can sometimes alternate going inside, while the others stay in a dog-friendly cafe or go for a nice walk; sometimes if you’re staying in a safe location it may be possible to leave the dog for a few hours.
Another option is to look for dog sitting services or local kennels. From my research, I have found out that some places have on-site/nearby kennels such as Mont Saint-Michel in France. We will update you along the way with what we find out.
If you have any tips on travelling with dogs in Europe we would love to hear from you.
Well – Brexit was delayed! So Pepper is fine to carry on travelling in Europe until another decision is made…